The Jakarta Post
The Supreme Court’s decision to find Baiq Nuril guilty of defaming her former superior on Friday has sparked criticism among activists who argue that Baiq is in fact a victim of sexual harassment from her boss, a former headmaster, and should therefore not be punished.
Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) said on its official Twitter account @safenetvoice on Tuesday that H. Muslim, the former headmaster, had contacted Baiq by phone several times.
In their conversations, Muslim allegedly shared vulgar and lewd stories about his sexual affair with his treasurer and asked Baiq to stay in a hotel with him on several occasions.
“Have you ever received a phone call from your colleague but the conversation turned into a lewd conversation that [was a form of] sexual harassment against you and made you feel uncomfortable? That’s what happened to Nuril,” @safenetvoice tweeted.
Baiq, afraid she would be fired if she filed a report, initially kept mum, but when Muslim called her again, she decided to record the conversation. Her colleague, Imam Mudawin, asked about the recording and reported it to the Mataram Education Agency.
Muslim was removed from the school after the incident, while Nuril was reported for spreading the recording, something that she said she never did.
“Nuril’s case will make many women in Indonesia who have become victims of sexual harassment afraid to report what they had been through, because they are afraid they will be a convict like Nuril. Of course, this is a bad example for the protection of sexual abuse and harassment victims in Indonesia,” a SAFEnet volunteer, Ike Ningtyas, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said the court’s ruling was absurd since Nuril was only documenting the abuse she received from her employer.
“Unsolicited, sexually explicit and abusive telephone calls would constitute sexual harassment and should be investigated as a priority, with charges brought accordingly. It is a travesty that, while the victim of the alleged abuse has been convicted for recording this call, little if any action has been taken by the authorities to investigate what appear to be credible claims,” he said on Thursday.
Usman said the verdict was yet another example of how the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law had been used to repress people.
“Its vague definitions of defamation, blasphemy and, in this case, ‘sharing information that violates decency’, have routinely been used in abusive ways – often to silence freedom of expression. In this case, it appears a woman was criminalized simply for taking steps to redress the abuse she experienced. Nuril must be freed, and the ITE law must be amended,” Usman said.
Nuril must serve a six-month sentence and pay a Rp 500 million (US$33,749) fine, according to the ruling on Friday, which found her guilty of violating Article 27 Point 1 of the 2016 ITE Law.
Meanwhile, a crowdfunding campaign was initiated by the Victims of UU ITE Community (PAKU ITE) on Tuesday evening to raise money to help Nuril pay the fine.
As of Thursday morning, the link had been shared 8,900 times on Facebook and more than Rp 89 million had been raised. (evi)